A panel of judges from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals were in Austin yesterday to hear oral arguments in the affirmative action case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin.
Austin-resident Abigail Fisher argued she lost her spot at UT because she’s white and took her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court did not make a ruling and instead kicked it back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, saying the court needed to take another look at UT admission policies.
Professor and Associate Dean T. Gerald Treece teaches at the South Texas School of Law in Houston and said the Supreme Court has created confusion by saying race could be a factor in admission but it can’t be the decisive factor.
"The University of Texas takes the position: First-all they did not use race as the decisive factor; number two, Ms. Fisher -- no matter how much she desires to believe so -- would not have been admitted anyway," Treece said.
Another factor that may make this a moot point is Fisher has since graduated from Louisiana State University.
"But this professor believes something else is afoot," Treece said. "The Supreme Court -- while Fisher was defending -- granted appeal to a similar case out of Michigan that prohibits racial affirmative action."
Treece said the Michigan case -- not the Fisher case -- could be the one that puts an end to affirmative action.
"I think the Supreme Court decision in the Michigan case could be broad enough to take care of the Fisher case, because the Fisher case is tied up in what kind of test to use what kind of standard to use," Treece said.
Treece said by sending the Fisher case back to the lower circuit court, it still leaves the door open should the Supreme Court find fault with the separate Michigan affirmative action case.